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    » 07/23/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Woman freed after spending 14 years in prison without trial for “blasphemy”



    Zaibul Nisa had been arrested on vague blasphemy charges. The judge who released her is dismayed by her long and unjust confinement. Her lawyer complains that she “was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone.”
    Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The High Court in Lahore has ordered the release Zaibul Nisa, a 60-year-old woman who spent the past 14 years in the prison section of a mental asylum for blasphemy, on allegations of desecrating the Qur‘an. Back in 1996, police arrested her and then locked her up without a shred of evidence.

    Expressing his “dismay” over her long and unjust confinement, the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, "ordered the release of Zaibul Nisa after no evidence was found against her," a court official said.

    Nisa was arrested in the town of Rawat, near the capital Islamabad, after a local resident filed a complaint at a police station that someone had desecrated the Koran, defence lawyer Aftab Ahmad Bajwa said.

    Nisa's name was not even mentioned in the police complaint, Bajwa explained, and “Nobody, not even her relatives, pursued the case. She was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone”.

    Police arrested her on the basis of the infamous blasphemy law, namely article 295, sections B and C, of the Pakistan Penal Code, which respectively impose life in prison on anyone defiling the Qur‘an and the death penalty on anyone defaming Prophet Mohammed.

    However, very often blasphemy charges are falsely laid or motivated by sordid reasons, generating scandals and stirring angry people to seek mob justice.

    For example, two Christian brothers (one a Protestant clergyman) accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Mohammed were shot dead last Monday outside a court that was going to acquit them.

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    See also

    06/03/2008 PAKISTAN
    An 80-year-old Ahmadi man arrested for blasphemy
    Police in Kabeer wala arrest the old believer, charging him with ripping and throwing pages of the Qur‘an on the ground.

    28/03/2007 PAKISTAN
    Muslims torture for hours Christian “blasphemer” now in jail
    A mob of some 150 Muslims in Punjab stormed the home of Amanat Masih, a Protestant charged with burning some pages of the Qur’an. Police intervene after hours of torture and arrest him.

    22/01/2007 PAKISTAN
    Christian charged with blasphemy freed after two years
    Shahbaz Masih Kaka is mentally disabled, but a court in Faisalabad sentenced him to 25 years. Pressures from Islamic extremists are to blame.

    26/01/2007 PAKISTAN
    Another Christian imprisoned for “blasphemy”
    Following an altercation, a man who owed money to a Christian woman accuses her of insulting the prophet Muhammad, an offence that also carries the death penalty. She was taken into custody by the police. Minority rights group blames Islamic extremists for using the law to strike at religious minorities or anyone who dare oppose them.

    16/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law, a sword hanging over our heads
    Asia Bibi’s case is but the latest in a long series of tragedies due to the infamous law, which sows fear in people. The Church of Pakistan is a Church that suffers, but it has a prophetic role to play: “bring hope to an entire people”.



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